Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Mobile Noise Versus The Mobile News

The smartphone world has started to become the latest ‘in’ place and we are starting to see the explosion of mobile applications. We have long believed that this and the notebook/laptop platforms are the main technology platforms for the immediate future and that all other, unless they have a compelling case, all will migrate to these two platforms. Mobile offers much but also is very restricted today in the size of the display, application and files supported and the yet to be resolved, device/ carrier/ operating system wars.

Single application devices such as the ebook readers are going to have a hard fight to justify their existence against what appears to be an inevitable outcome. PDF requires reflowable text in order to work on mobiles and although this is possible it is crude today. However, epub offers full reflow and therefore the ability to render automatically onto mobiles. Some would argue that Adobe backed the epub ebook standard in an attempt to ‘own’ the mobile world through its ACS4 DRM service.
Some would also point out that Adobe is ‘spreading their bet’ by their push to get Flash onto the mobile platform. The issue here is size and the need to used Flash Lite or as we have reported move the flash application onto the chip and thereby maximize efficiency and also virtually guarantee flash on all devices – even the iPhone who currently are holding out against Flash.

Today there are many applications which will play files on mobiles. Some use proprietary formats and introduce further conversion or restrictions. Some come with no effective DRM and although fine for public domain titles are not suitable for front list. We then have widgets which have in the main have been Flash driven so need to be revisited to present the information in a digestible form. Finally we have the content itself and the question of what the consumer will want to read on a mobile device.

We will read much over the coming months on publishers, and mobiles and many claims much of which will be noise and positioning rhetoric. What is important is that we are able to identify the genuine news and progress from the PR spin and noise that currently engulfs this area.

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